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Subaru Sherpa

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Subaru Sherpa

Subaru Sherpa / 700

1982 - 1989
Water-cooled 2-cylinder
665 cc
27 kW / 54 Nm
4 spd. man
Top Speed:
125 km/h
Number Built:
0 star
Subaru Sherpa / 700
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1


Mini cars have always been popular, and these days those that fill the "Cheap-And-Cheerful" segment are in the main well built, and provide a better than reasonable driving experience. But if you go back a couple of decades, that was not always the case. You didn't need to look any further than the offerings from Lada to figure that out.

So buying a good quality small car was not so easy. Those in the know will tell you that there was one stand-out car, the zippy little Subaru Sherpa. The car had quickly become the micro-mini market leader in the Japanese domestic market, and with good reason.

The ancestor to the Sherpa was obviously the Subaru 360, the "Ladybug" going a long way to establishing Fuji Heavy Industries as an automotive market leader. The 1969 R2 model followed, and now bore more than a resemblance to the Sherpa.

Under the bonnet of the Sherpa was a lively little two-cylinder, four-stroke water-cooled 665cc overhead cam engine that managed to give the car a top speed of around 125 km/h. Around town (which was its intended purpose), the Sherpa suprised many with its relatively large cargo capacity, frugal fuel consumption and comfort.

Easy to drive, easy to park, easy on the hip-pocket and with enough performance to keep you up with the traffic made for a compelling argument for those looking for a true city car. The little Sherpa only came with a 32 litre fuel tank, but with consumption of only 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres in the city, and 5.1 on the highway - the small tank was more than adequate. Add to that a 9.6 metre turning circle, you can understand why the little car endeared it'self to so many.

The Sherpa's mechanical specification was very good. Front disc brakes and rear drums provided very good stopping power, and independent suspension courtesy of MacPherson strut up front with trailing arms at the rear meant the ride was much better than any such small car should have offered.

Zero scrub suspension geometry, rear gas shocks, rack-and-pinion steering and a hefty stabiliser bar ensured handling was well above class standards of the day. The four speed manual gearbox was carefully geared to make the most of the power and torque bands of the tiny engine, the result providing the Sherpa with good performance and spectacular economy.

Optional accessories included: air-conditioning, bull bar (aluminimum alloy), dress rims, headlight guards, louvre rear window, mudflaps (front and/or rear), rubber mats front, cargo mat, roof rack, style stripes (string set), style stripes (graduation set), front door visors, window protection bars (rear) and weathershield.

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Reader Reviews page 1 of 1
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Posted 181 days ago
I have a 1983 Sherpa in good condition, just passed rego again. It was my Mum and Dads car, no rust in the body, but the engine has a little rust in the parts, it goes very well. I would like someone to buy it and do it up as a classic car, but not to work the sh*t out of it. Anyone one interested in it?
Posted 682 days ago
I've got the 1988 "M70 SuperDeluxe" Sherpa, red with a matte black bonnet. I couldn't help myself and started modding it within a week of owning it!! Raised air filter into a small bonnet scoop, oil catch can, hella supertones, mini canon exhaust, painted the wheels white, red anodized wheel nuts, white writing on the tyres for a bit of "racecar cred", tinted windows, RPM tacho, sports steering wheel, custom centre console with 2 cup holders, phone holder, and housing 2 4" speakers, new HU and 6x9 rear speakers, and a new false floor in the boot. The engine has a nice cocktail of oil/water/fuel mixing inside but luckily I've got a complete spare '88 Sherpa which what appears to have a better motor, so a transplant is on the cards soon. I would love one day to find a 4WD supercharged Rex in Japan to either import and drive, or as a half cut to drop into mine!! Great little car!!!
Posted 1190 days ago
I just bought a lil yellow sherpa of a mate from work for 600, 6 months rego, full sound system in it and love driving it around town. If any body has advice on websites to visit or shops in term of modifying the sherpa please email me jareth_lindner@y7mail ***
Posted 1299 days ago
I have a 1989 sherpa...i love the little thing.Its off the road at the moment.Trying to locate a clutch.Any clues??email to equanamous@internode.on ***
James Beasley
Posted 1382 days ago
My friend bought one of these it is pretty terible it goes like a dog with a red rocket.
Posted 1457 days ago
i just bought a sherpa for 200 me and my mate are giving it a respray now and are planning on puttung a minni turbo on it but the thing is the engine has done nearly 550000 kms so im looking for a recon engin or one with very low kms so i can modifiy and fit a turbo with out blowing the engine up so if any one has any sherpa parts or a decent engin or knows of some one with sherpa parts please contact me on 0426204666 or email me at cameron-vincent@hotmail *** cheers :)
Posted 1462 days ago
I acquired my 1986 red sherpa a few years ago. Had it fully repainted and detailed. Been a fabulous little car. but now she is needing new cv joints, front break diaphragm i think, and possibly a new gear box. and as of last night, a new waterpump.. Can anyone help. Would buy a wreck.
Wendy (Brisbane)
Posted 1981 days ago
I just got a yellow 85 sherpa and for the roady it needed new drive shafts, i had the 1s in it reco'd, cost me $150 a new inner door handle, a hole in the exhaust welded up and thats bout it. The previous owner had the clutch cable replaced by eastern subaru and it has been serviced there for the last 12yrs :) does any1 know were i ca get any spares from? i want to replace the gaurds as they have a bit of rust on the very bottom. I payed 200 for the car and i rapped with the lil thing :) oh and i am the 3rd owner and it has almost done 78000kms :)
Posted 1981 days ago
I just got a yellow 85 sherpa and for the roady it needed new drive shafts, i had the 1s in it reco'd, cost me $150 a new inner door handle, a hole in the exhaust welded up and thats bout it. The previous owner had the clutch cable replaced by eastern subaru and it has been serviced there for the last 12yrs :) does any1 know were i ca get any spares from? i want to replace the gaurds as they have a bit of rust on the very bottom. I payed 200 for the car and i rapped with the lil thing :)
Posted 2149 days ago
'83 super deluxe most fun I have had in long time.
@Philippe : when I got mine the clutch cable broke within a few days. still under stat. warranty so was able to get it replaced free to me.
only cable mechanic could find was from a wrecker in north brisbane, no one else had anything that would fit so likely if you cannot find one from a wrecker you will have to get one custom made.
i'd do it. it's worth it.
i drive an xr6 falcon for work (long distance highway driving), but at home around town the sherpa is the pick.
my problem is the back drums rusted out; this might mean i may not stop next time i hit the brakes.
anyone know if brumby bits will fit?
Posted 2151 days ago
Purchased a sherpa for pizza delivery for $500, was driving great but first night on the job busted a CV joint.. ended up selling it off the side of the road for $150!!! Was good while it lasted, wouldnt like to be in one in a crash though, feel a little flimsy.
Posted 2178 days ago
also forgot 2 mention it using no oil or wateR n everything stilss works apart from the handbrake. the motor is stil strong i bleive, but has any1 got a set of cv joints n axles i guess for this sherpa???
Posted 2178 days ago
i bought this 1986 sherpa off my mums good freind 3 years ago, n i have absolutely flogged the sh*t out of it.. i drive it flat to the floor everyday mon-fri. iv wore the clutch out in it and have jus wore out the 2nd set of front cv joints. if i had to say the weakest point of the car, it is the cv joints.i suppose it does nt help doing reverse donuts or hill climbs that should only be attempted in 4wds but people would not believe where i have had this car. it was only yesterday that i was following 4wd tracks and cos the front diff is worn out, it hooks up 2 wheels everywhere and it start spinnin both front wheels and slid into a swamp. the car was on a 40 degree angle and there was water ankle deep in the foot wells. the links to videos of me doin theese hill climbs n mud runs that 4wd's cannot beleive im following them in this 2 cylcinder front whheel drive car. i jus cannot kill this thing, im takin out onto the beach in a few weeks time n im sure it will get threw. n the best bit is its so light, u can almost push it out wen i gets stuck. it is the best $700 iv eva spent n the amount of fun n time iv spent floggin it n stil driven it everyday to work at a cost of $22 a fortnight n thats bp ultimate 98%
Posted 2190 days ago
Only problem is the clutch. If you have a heavy foot, you need to replace the clutch every 3 years or so, however, other than regular maintenance, extremely cheap to run. I really pushed my sherpa to the limits for 5 years as I was saving for my second car and it just refused to die.
Posted 2192 days ago
I bought a sherpa last year for 1,600. I have been driving it every day up a muddy hill. It's front wheel drive give good control. It has been terrific but last week the clutch cable broke and I am trying to get a replacement. The only offer I have had is a new one made for 350.00 a bit steep. Does anyone have any suggestions?
alasdair white
Posted 2213 days ago
A mate got me on to a sherpa of his granmas when she decieded to give up driving for the bus. I picked it up for $400 with 93,000 on it and 12 months rego. i drive it to work every day and my wife has the impreza. $20 usually does me for two weeks of work trips and it sits comfortably on 80 ks with revin her to hard , it bin a great money saver for me because im a apprentice fitter and a pleasure to drive apart from the odd look u get every so ofter ..... guess ill have to get tinted windows.
Jon Nelson
Posted 2245 days ago
I bought a new Sherpa for $6200.00 Australian, all costs (excluding insurance) in October of 1984. I had it until Spring of 2003. The only things I replaced on it were the usual, plus a new set of CV joints in 2000. I managed a wife and 2 kids with it, as my main vehicle, because at the purchase point, in Berwick, Victoria, Australia, I had the dealer put in a rear seat with a baby's capsule achor point at the rear. WHAT A CAR !!! I managed 365kms on one tank of petrol (gasoline) on average for years. We eventually sold it to a collector in 2003 who said it was in "beaut nick" (condition, in Aussie lingo"). I had changed the 2.4 litre engine oil qty. in it religiously every 2000 kms all that time, and kept it waxed 3 times a year - because I appreciated how it treated us all the time. - I went on to replace it with a Subaru 1800cc DL Sportswagon, which I still own and drive at present, with 174,000 kms on it. ( By the way, the Sherpa had 160,000+ kms on the odometre when I sold it.) - from Mr. Jon Nelson, Malvern East, Victoria, Australia. (written 10 Jan., 2009). --
Posted 2372 days ago
I own an 85 Subaru Sherpa currently 2008. Its only travelled 144,000 klms and has only had 2 families own it from new, its brilliant, quite powerful and is signwritten allover for my business, works way better than an A-Frame..and OH SO CHEAP TO RUN.
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